Sunday, November 30, 2008

Anniversaries of the Heart

“The holiest of all holidays are those
Kept by ourselves in silence and apart,
The secret anniversaries of the heart”
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I love the Longfellow quote about anniversaries of the heart and I've been thinking a lot about it this month as I've marked one of my own occasions that I have kept to myself. I've gone back and forth about whether or not I should write about it, but they say blogging is cheaper than therapy, so I finally decided, why not?

Bryan and I expected to be bringing a new baby home this month. A baby that, instead, we said goodbye to earlier this year. I never know how much I should say to other people about my miscarriage, but mostly it is because I don't want them to be uncomfortable. When people ask me if I want to have another baby, I simply answer yes. I don't say I want another baby more than anything--so badly I can taste it. I don't tell them the details about how my doctor wants me to wait at least a few more months before we even consider trying again or that at least once a week I do some quick math, counting on my fingers, to figure out how old Evan will be on the earliest possible date we could be bringing a new baby home. I don't mention how scared Bryan and I are that something could go wrong again. And I definitely don't mention the dates I am sure I won't forget.
What would have been my due date came and went at the beginning of the month. I thought about what I had planned to be doing that day, but I didn't break down and cry. But for some reason, I've been mourning the loss of the pregnancy completely over again this weekend. It could be because I got to spend a lot of time on Thanksgiving holding the sweetest little baby boy whose cheeks just begged to be kissed. It could be because on our drive home from Virginia Beach yesterday this sweet little old lady struck up a conversation with us. Her Alzheimer's, her son explained, led her to ask me no fewer than eight times if Evan was my only child. Each time I answered yes she told me I should have more and I shouldn't wait too long. It could be because last night we watched Juno--a cute movie about a girl who gives her baby up for adoption. Maybe it is all the Christmas preparations I've been doing and my subconscious can't help but remember that I thought there would be four of us on our Christmas card this year. Whatever it is, some tears have been falling!

I know time heals all wounds and that someday we'll either have a new addition to our family or, if that is not what is in store for us, we'll just simply love and adore the family we have. We are so blessed and lucky to already have our sweet little Evan. Even though he did decide to act up a little this morning, I now appreciate more than ever what a true miracle he is.
It is hard to know what to do with the anniversaries of the heart. There is no reason to be ashamed of them, but we don't really talk about them either. I know miscarriages are common, and in a way it is too bad we don't talk about them more often. Maybe if I had known more about how common they are I wouldn't have been so shocked when it happened to me, although I doubt I would have been any less sad.
I don't know why all of this has hit me again this weekend. It really makes no sense, but I guess that is just how those things go. So, if Bryan catches me being a little weepy, that is why. It is also the reason why I'll be showering Evan with a few more kisses than usual. And, to those of you who have little ones of your own, be sure to give them a few extra kisses, too. And, if anyone reading this is longing for a baby of her own, hang in there. I keep trying to remind myself we have no idea what the universe has in store for us. Although--some days it is easier to believe that than others.
(By the way--I can't get the spacing right on this post and I don't know why--so sorry for the paragraph breaks, or lack thereof).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mini Photo Books

I finished a mini photo book this week!!! Yeah!!! Another project I can check off my to-do list! I made a couple of these last year for gifts and wanted to make more. This one has pictures of my mom's family on Christmas morning sometime in the 1950s. I love looking at the pictures and seeing what each person got for Christmas!

Here is the cover:

This is my grandma. You can't really see it in the photo, but she received new dishes and a purse.

The photo on the left is of my grandpa, who got a new gun. My Uncle Kenny is on the right. He received Army men, a truck and a jack in the box.

My mom is on the left. She is holding what looks like a bathrobe and she also received a new dress and a Buffalo Bill, Jr. book. My Aunt Norma on the right is holding a radio and received an Elvis record and some books.

My Aunt Nette received a baby doll, a stroller and a purse.
This is my Uncle Roy, the baby of the family. He got a football and some pull toys.

I always have fun making these books, even though they don't turn out as cute as I'd like them to! I hope the person I'm giving this to likes it. is a surprise!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Snowman Ornaments

My friend Sandy is so creative! She is in an ornament exchange club and she was nice enough to share pictures with me of the cute ornaments she made. She sewed all their little hats an everything. Aren't they adorable?

I promised her I would act surprised if I were lucky enough for one of these little guys to find its way to my tree! :-)

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Job Well Done

I finally got around to cleaning out our fridge last night. It is a job I always tell myself I am going to do every Tuesday night since garbage day is Wednesday, but in all honestly it is something that goes a few weeks before I get around to it.

Every time I clean out the fridge, I find myself asking the same three questions:

1--Why do I insist on saving the two tablespoons of tuna fish that are leftover after I make myself a sandwich? Every time I make a tuna fish sandwich, I have no more than two spoonfuls of tuna fish left. I don't want to put it on the sandwich because that would mess up my bread to tuna ratio. But, I can't just throw it away either, that would be wasteful and I wasn't raised like that. Nope--instead, I put the little bit that is left in a Tupperware container and tell myself I'll eat it on crackers the next day for lunch. That never happens. Instead that small container gets shoved to the back of the fridge and sits untouched for weeks until I clean out the fridge again.

2--Why do we have so many condiments and have any of them expired so I can justify throwing them away? I have a bottle of Italian dressing that I can toss out next month. But that Hoisin sauce I bought--looks like it will be around until 2010. It just seems wrong that you have to buy a whole bottle of something when you really only need half a teaspoon of it for a recipe you want to try.

3--What is this sticky stuff? I don't know how, but we always manage to have something that has left a sticky ring in the fridge and I can never quite figure out what it is or how it got there. Gross.

Now that the fridge is cleaned out I really should turn my attention to the pantry. On first glance I can tell I am going to be asking myself why in the world I have THAT much sweetened condensed milk and what I had planned to make with the can of coconut milk that is in there.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Outtakes

On Saturday we all combed our hair and put on nice clothes to have our Christmas photos taken. My neighbor is starting a new business venture doing photos in your house, so she was nice enough to lug over all of her equipment and give us a free sitting. Well--I do have to make her a batch of sugar cookies to repay her, but it is basically free. She did such a great job and was so patient with Evan. Even the outtakes she captured are some of my favorite photos of us. Here are the photos that won't be making it onto our Christmas cards this year:

Doing the pictures in our house was so much better than trekking to the mall! My neighbor even promised to Photoshop out my laugh lines! You can't beat that!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mommy Tag...

I got tagged! Missy tagged me, so here it goes.

1. What time do you wake up?
Earlier than I’d like—normally between 5:30 and 6:00. Except night before last, then it was midnight, 2 a.m. and then 6 a.m. It was a rought night!

2. On a good night, what time is your child in bed?
Between 7:30 and 8:00—it depends what time Bryan gets home, since he gets Evan all riled up before bed.

3. How long have you been a mommy?
Almost 21 months.

4. How old were you when you became a mom?

5. What is your favorite chore?
Isn’t favorite chore an oxymoron? I guess if I HAD to choose I’d go with doing the dishes.

6. What is your favorite meal to cook?
Pork chops, broccoli and cheese casserole and bread would probably be my three favorite things to make for a meal. However, I rarely make any of those things anymore!

7. What meal do you cook most often?
Chicken (Evan's favorite) and anything with noodles.

8. What are 5 things about being a mom that make you smile?
1-When Evan looks at me and lets out a string of syllables and then waits for an answer.
2-Watching how excited Evan gets when I turn football on for him.
3-Evan scratching my back for me.
4-Getting to splash in puddles again.
5-Reading Evan one of his favorite books.

9. If you could take your child anywhere, where would it be?

10. When was the last time you went out without your child?
I volunteered at Evan’s school last week without him—other than that, I think it has been quite a while!

11. What is your most heartbreaking moment as a mom?Holding Evan while the anesthesiologist put him to sleep so they could remove his hemangioma. Evan has another surgery coming up to correct a problem with his circumcision and I am certain that event is going to be the most heartbreaking moment I’ve had. I am not looking forward to it.

12. When was the last time you told your child "I love you"?
When I dropped him off at school this morning.

13. When was the last time you were told I love you?
This morning when Bryan left for work.

I tag Maquel and're it!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Sewing Machine is Winning

I spent several hours fighting with my sewing machine last night while working on some homemade Christmas gifts. I'm sorry to say the machine is winning as of this morning. I finally called it quits last night after several failed attempts to wind the bobbin. I'm not quite sure what I'm doing wrong, but I decided I'd start fresh after a good night's sleep.

The good news is that I did finish a couple of projects over the weekend. Bryan has (lovingly) forbidden me from buying any new crafting materials until I finish some of the projects I have going. Although I didn't say obey in my wedding vows, I typically tend to do it anyway. So, I'm hoping to get a few projects done this week while my writing is slow. Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Whew...Time to Breathe

This past week was a crazy flurry of deadlines for me. I'm not sure how I managed to have so many pieces due all on the same day, but it meant that I have been writing like crazy.

I also had quite a few sleepless nights this week as I was trying to get an interview with Rep. Oberstar from Minnesota that I wasn't sure was going to come through. I had to turn the piece in on Thursday and I didn't get the interview until late Wednesday. WHEW! Rep. Oberstar is the chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and I was doing a general profile. I am really happy with the way the story turned out and I can't wait to see it once it is all designed.

I also finished a 1,500-word piece this week on automatic transmissions in heavy-duty trucks. Have you ever written about automatic transmissions??? Let me tell you--those 1,500 words were pretty difficult, not to mention the 800 words I did in sidebars. I love stories like that because I learn a lot, but it takes more time and I always end up doing more interviews and research than was probably needed, but I like to be careful. It will run in early December.

The "fun" piece I did this week was on a new flavored-water drink called SkinnyWater. It is zero calories and has some additives that are supposed to help you lose weight. I haven't tried it, but it sounds like something I could use after all those ice cream Snickers bars I've been eating!

After I hit send on that story, I had three 1,000-word pieces I was doing for another client. I had finished all my interviews last week, but I still had to get it all written. So, the blog posting was light, but I was doing lots of other writing!

The rest of the month looks pretty quiet so far. I guess that is the nature of freelancing!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


In the past two weeks, Evan has fallen in love with football. It all started a few Sundays ago when I took him downstairs after his nap and Bryan was watching a game. Since then, he can't get enough. Luckily, Bryan told me that we have a 24-hour football channel on cable. Who knew?

Today, we were watching a 2007 game between Southern Florida University and Rutgers when Evan went and got Bryan's bike helmet and handed me mine and insisted we wear them while playing football. He also turned his toy basket into the end zone.

As I was hiking him the ball during one of our many indoor football games today, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, bike helmet and all, and thought, "If a meteorite hit the earth right now and years later archaeologists were unearthing our remains, they would never figure out what we were doing right this minute."

Then, I hiked Evan the ball in time to turn around and catch his pass and run for a touchdown at the opposite end of the family room. Overall, it was a pretty good day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

A while back, I had the bright idea that I would start a separate blog just for recipes. It was one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time, but I soon realized I couldn't keep up. So, today I'm deleting the blog, but before I do, I decided to post a few of the recipes over here... I did all that typing and I hate to see it go to waste! Obviously I made these things prior to the sugar detox I keep trying to undertake (maybe tomorrow will be the day, considering I just polished off the last of the cookies we had in the house).

Rhubarb Pudding Cake
My mom loves rhubarb, so I made this cake for her when she visited last. We had it for dessert one night, then we ate the leftovers for breakfast for the rest of the week. I used frozen rhubarb and it worked just fine. It was really easy to make!

3 cups diced fresh or frozen rhubarb
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup boiling water

Place rhubarb in a greased 8-in. square baking pan. In a small bowl, mix flour, sugar, milk, butter, baking powder, salt and vanilla (the mixture resembles biscuit dough). Spread over rhubarb. In another bowl, combine the boiling water with the sugar and cornstarch. Pour into the pan. Do not stir. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-65 minutes or until done.

Lemon Poppy Seed Scones
Bryan and I went through a phase where we were making these every Sunday. We've made them with the poppy seeds and without and they're good either way. Evan even likes them!

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons butter
1 egg
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix all ingredients until combined (it will resemble biscuit dough). Roll it into a ball, then flatten into an eight-inch circle. Cut into wedges (I normally make six wedges, but I think you should be able to get eight). Separate wedges and place on baking sheet. You can brush the dough with extra milk and sprinkle with sugar, if desired. (Sometimes I do this and sometimes I don't. When I have done this. I've used sugar in the raw, since it is a little prettier). Bake for 25 minutes.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Dirty Little Secret--Literally

Before Saturday, I can't remember the last time I vacuumed. Evan is afraid of the vacuum, so I only get it out when Bryan takes him somewhere on the weekends. Lately, when I've had time to myself on the weekends, I have been using the time to write (lots of deadlines pending, which is a good thing, but means other things suffer). We have hardwood floors upstairs, so I sweep, Swifter and wet mop, all of which Evan likes. And for the rugs? The dustbuster of course!

My brother called on Saturday morning and said he was going to have a long layover in D.C. Yay! Since we were going to have actual company, I decided I would vacuum while Bryan and Evan went to pick up my brother. I hate to admit it, but it had been so long since I had vacuumed, I couldn't even remember where the vacuum was! I checked the hall closet, then the family room vacuum...on to the laundry room, then the upstairs guest room, then the downstairs guest vacuum. Our house isn't that big, so I was running out of options and getting very frustrated with myself for LOSING OUR VACUUM. Our house isn't that big, so how could I lose the vacuum? That is a little like losing your washing machine! I checked all the above places again and then looked in my bedroom. I didn't think I'd have missed stepping over the vacuum had it been in there, but you never know. For a split second I thought maybe someone broke in and stole just the vacuum, but I knew that was a bit far fetched.

Finally, it hit me, the utility room! Of course. There in all its glory was the vacuum. So, I took it upstairs and remembered why I hadn't missed vacuuming. Our vacuum is awful! I think it was putting down more dirt than it was picking up. I emptied it, but it still didn't get any better. I've hated that vacuum for years and don't know why we haven't sprung for a new one. I finally put it away and got out the broom and dustbuster!!!

A few months ago Bryan's mom asked us if we wanted individual gifts or a family gift for Christmas this year. My first reaction honestly was to ask for a vacuum as a family gift! I decided that was a little too practical (something I get from my mom), and I didn't want to spoil the fun for the rest of the family, but I'm thinking I might add it back onto my Christmas list!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sugar Detox

I've finally accepted it--I need a sugar detox. Ever since I began baking in preparation for Ali's shower, I've been nibbling, sampling and just flat out eating sweets! It also hasn't helped that one of Bryan's clients is Mars (you know--the makers of M&Ms, Snickers, Skittles, Starbursts, etc., etc., etc.) and he has been bringing home samples. I've been eating at least one package of M&Ms or an ice cream Snickers bar a day, so it is no wonder my pants are starting to get tight. (On a side note--have you ever had one of those Snickers ice cream bars? They are so good! I could really go for one right now!).

The sugar detox was going to begin today, but I had to bake cookies for a church bake sale and Bryan brought home some cheesecake from a dinner he went to last night. No sense in letting it go to waste. I think we'll have to have a mad dash tonight to finish off all the sweets so the detox can officially begin tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Gobble Gobble

My neighbor brought this cute little guy over to us tonight. It is made out of a walnut and a hazelnut and I think it is just adorable! I can just picture a bunch of these serving as place cards on a Thanksgiving table. I don't think we'll get to them this year, but I am going to tuck the idea away for Thanksgiving 2009.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Made it in American Baby

One day I would like to get a full feature story in American Baby, but for now, I'll settle for the quote they ran on page 58 of this month's issue. I had to nearly wrestle Evan to get him to pose for that picture! The quote is in a call-out box "What Worked for You?" in the story about feeding your baby solid foods.

I said having a high chair that reclined helped put gravity on our side when we started cereal with Evan. It really helped and I would recommend it to any new mom! :-)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Twelve Pounds of Powdered Sugar Later: The Cookies

I made two types of cookies for Ali's shower, baby blocks with butter cream icing and onsies with a fondant icing so they could be placed in cellophane bags as favors.

For the onsies, I made a basic sugar cookie with a onsie-shaped cutter. Then rolled out some of the white fondant I had made and cut it out using the cookie cutter. Here are the little t-shirts waiting to get put on the cookies:

Then, I spread just a little butter cream on the cookie to hold the fondant on. And, voila, onsies!

Next I dressed them up with some polka dots. I also put stars on a some, but I didn't get a close up of those!

Next I put them in bags and tied on some ribbons. Bryan was nice enough to help me with that part!

To make the baby blocks, I just used a square cutter, frosted them white and then piped on some borders and letters. The recipe I use freezes really well, so I was able to make them earlier in the week!
There were definitely plenty of sweets on hand at the shower! Bryan and I have been sampling plenty, too. I think we're going to have to have a sugar detox next week at our house.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Twelve Pounds of Powdered Sugar Later: The Cake

My friend Ali's baby shower was on Saturday and I made the cake! I had intended to whip up a few practice versions before the big day, but I never had a chance, so I kept my fingers crossed and this is what I made: A two-layer cake with a little sleeping baby on top.

The top layer was chocolate with an almond butter cream filling and the bottom layer was white cake with a raspberry filling. The last time I used fondant I bought it, but this time I decided to try making my own. It tasted much better and was easier to work with. You can't beat that!

Here is the recipe:

1- 16 oz bag of mini marshmallows
2 tbsps water
2 lbs powdered sugar (8 cups)

In a large bowl combine the marshmallows and the water. Microwave in 30 second intervals until the marshmallows melt. If you know you want one color, you can add your food coloring to the marshmallow mixture (it is easier to add it now than to knead it in at the end. The downside is that a little harder to determine the color, since you'll still be adding the powdered sugar). Add in about half of the powdered sugar and stir. Once the mixture gets too stiff to stir, knead with your hands, mixing in more powdered sugar until the mixture is a stiff consistency. You may not end up using all 8 cups of powdered sugar, depending on how much marshmallow mixture you end up leaving stuck to the spoon--it is sticky stuff! Eventually it is easiest to turn it onto the counter/table that is covered with powdered sugar and knead it on there. Place the mixture in plastic wrap and let sit for several hours before using. It can also sit for several days if you keep it wrapped up well.

Here are a few tips I learned:

1) Take off your rings before you start.

2) Grease your hands with Crisco.

3) You will get a sugar high if you sample the fondant as you go--so pace yourself.

4) Don't try using a stand mixer--it is no match for the fondant. I also tried mounding the powdered sugar directly on the counter and pouring the melted marshmallows on it, but that didn't work as well as I hoped. I found the best option was using a large bowl to melt the marshmallows and then adding the powdered sugar directly into that bowl, kneading it in the bowl until it was almost finished, then kneading it on the counter.

I made three batches, and I felt like I was getting pretty good at it by the third! To make the cake, I put a thin layer of butter cream on the outside of the cake, rolled the fondant as thin as I could (use lots of powdered sugar on the rolling pin and counter as you are rolling it out, then smoothed the fondant on the cake. I made the sleeping baby and blanket for the top, then wrapped ribbon around the bottom (which I secured with some large pins--to make sure they were visible to anyone who served the cake, but it ended up being me, so there were no worries).

I had fun making the cake and was relieved on Saturday morning when I got up and it was still standing (I finished it around 1 a.m. Friday night/Saturday morning). I was also happy I made the 30-minute drive to the shower without hitting a single pothole! I also made some baby block and onsie cookies for the shower. I'll post about those later!

The shower was lovely and Ali looked gorgeous! She received lots of great gifts for her little baby boy who will be here in December! Her mother-in-law made a delicious lunch and had the most beautiful serving pieces that added so much to the event!

Oh--and, I'm already trying to decide what kind of cake to make for Evan's birthday this year--it is only four months away! It seems like I just finished his first birthday cake.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween

We decided to take Evan trick-or-treating at a few or our neighbors' houses. We only went to four houses, but I think it took us over an hour! Evan seemed to have fun and our neighbor, Miss Louise, had a special pumpkin book for him. Here are Bryan and I with our little Donald Duck (separately, of course, we need to use the self-timer more often)!

We let Evan eat some of the candy he received--he LOVES chocolate. He is developing some acne though, so I think we're going to have to cut him off! Poor little guy!